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James Donaldson

Mathematician James A. Donaldson was born in 1941 on a farm in Madison County, Florida as one of eleven children to parents Audrey Brown and Oliver Donaldson. After graduating from high school, Donaldson enrolled at Lincoln University near Oxford, Pennsylvania in 1957 and graduated from there in 1961 with his A.B. degree in mathematics. Donaldson continued his studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he received his M.S. degree in mathematics in 1963, and his Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1965.

Upon graduation, Donaldson served as professor of mathematics at Southern University, Howard University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of New Mexico. In addition, Donaldson was appointed as a visiting professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science at the University of Victoria in Canada, the University of Ferrara in Italy, and Duke University in North Carolina. In 1972, Donaldson was named chairman of Howard University Department of Mathematics. During his tenure there, Donald oversaw the hiring of new tenured-faculty and the development and inauguration of the first Ph.D. degree-granting mathematics program at a Historically Black College and University.

Donaldson has served on committees of several professional mathematics and science organizations. He is a member of the Council of the American Mathematical Society, served as the second vice president of the Mathematical Association of America, and was the editor of the newsletter of the National Association of Mathematicians. Donaldson’s research interests include the history of mathematics and mathematics accessibility issues and he has published more than fifty research papers, articles and presentations in these areas as well.

Donaldson served as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the Sloan Foundation, the Educational Testing Service, several state boards of Education, many mathematics departments, and the District of Columbia Public School System. He received the Lincoln University Alumni Achievement Award in 1986, and was the National Institute of Science’s memorial lecturer in 1989.

James A. Donaldson was interviewed by March 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.087

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/28/2013

Last Name

Donaldson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Ashley

Occupation
Schools

Jeslamb School

Madison County Training School

Lincoln University

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Madison County

HM ID

DON03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I'm still kickin'.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/17/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician James Donaldson (1941 - ) served as the chairman of the the Howard University Department of Mathematics where he established the first Ph.D. degree-granting mathematics program at a Historically Black College and University

Employment

Howard University

Lincoln University

University of New Mexico

University of Illinois, Chicago

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Donaldson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Donaldson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his mother and her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Donaldson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his father and his work on his family's farm

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his parents getting married in the early 1920s

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his parents' and his Uncle Enoch's influence on his upbringing and his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Donaldson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Donaldson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Donaldson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about the quality of his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about Jeslamb School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about his teachers at Jeslamb School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about listening to the radio while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his teachers and his academic performance in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his pre-college counseling, graduating from high school, and his father's death

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his teacher, Mr. Scott, and his interest in working as an electrician

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his visit to Washington, D.C. during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about being hazed upon his arrival at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his preparation for college and his academic performance there

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his clumsiness in the science lab and his decision to major in mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his math studies, his professors, and his peers at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his decision to pursue graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his problems with finding a place to stay upon his initial arrival at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about African American mathematicians and his peers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Donaldson explains the concept of differential equations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Donaldson describes an example of a differential equation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about mathematical problems

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his Ph.D. advisor, Ray Langebartel, and his teacher, Professor Dube

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his struggles in graduate school and the nature of research in mathematics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his experience working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's (UIUC) Computer Center

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his experience working at Howard University during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his colleagues and his experience working at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about the Annual Meeting of the American Mathematics Society

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his memories of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and his participation in anti-war protesting

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his decision to leave the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his postdoctoral research at the University of New Mexico

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about returning to Howard University and publishing in the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about being a founding member of the Association for Women in Mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about the development of Howard University's doctoral program in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about the supporters of Howard University's graduate program expansion efforts

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about balancing his responsibilities as chair with his research activities

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his mathematical teaching philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Donaldson explains a Cauchy problem as a differential equation

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his organizational affiliations

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about the attendees of the First Pan African Congress of Mathematicians

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his professional activities - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his experience in Italy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about his professional activities - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about Abdulalim Shabazz

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about becoming acting president of Lincoln University and receiving a traveling award from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about Patrick Swygert's role in his appointment as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - James Donaldson talks about becoming the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his educational initiatives for Howard University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his educational initiatives for Howard University - part two

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his colleague, Jeff Donaldson, and his involvement in developing the Afro-American Studies program

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about Elbert F. Cox and the importance of scientists knowing the history of their field

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his research interests, and the integration of mathematics and the life sciences

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - James Donaldson reflects upon how he treated his students when he first started teaching

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - James Donaldson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his views on research

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - James Donaldson shares his hopes for mathematical-related fields

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - James Donaldson talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - James Donaldson talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
James Donaldson talks about his clumsiness in the science lab and his decision to major in mathematics
James Donaldson talks about the development of Howard University's doctoral program in mathematics
Transcript
Now what did you decide to major in when you first got to Lincoln [University]?$$Well when I first went to Lincoln, I was not sure; I thought that I was going to do pre-medicine because I'd heard people talk about pre-medicine but when I went to the biology class and they had--as part of the experiments you had to do was to dissect this frog that had been preserved in formaldehyde. I decided, you know, that there had to be something else, so I just sort of went--I went and changed that and so I looked at engineering for a while because they had this cooperative agreement with--I wanna say Lehigh University [Bethlehem, Pennsylvania]--no, Lafayette College in [Easton] Pennsylvania. Lincoln had a cooperative agreement so you do three years at Lincoln, two years at Lafayette, and you get a degree in engineering and a degree in liberal arts. And so I was interested in engineering so I did that for about a semester but that didn't work out well and again, it was the laboratory thing that just fell down.$$What was the problem with the laboratory?$$Well, you had to go out on these field trips; you had to go out on these field trips and one Saturday morning--and I think I probably will remember this until the day I die--we had to go out and it had rained a lot the week before. On a Saturday, we had to go out to look at some rock stratifications along the Chesapeake Bay Canal that connects the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It's up in Delaware; it's not too far from Lincoln, so just a bus trip; and we were supposed to go out and look at this and we went out there and--now my professor, Professor Rasmussen, really nice man, he was equipped; everything was equipped. He had on these rubber boots and all of this stuff and here I was out there, you know, with sneakers on and my classmates we were similarly equipped, and all of that mud and stuff we were sloshing around in. And so by the end of the day, everyone was tired and, you know, all wet and dirty, and I remember being so tired I saw this little small pool of water and ordinarily I would have tried to go around it or jump across it but I was just so tired I said I'm just gonna walk--I'm wet already, I might as well walk through this water. So I walked through this water and there was a hole, and I came up--water came up to my chest. So when they got me out of that, I knew then that my engineering days were over. So when I got back to the school, I went to see my advisor and told him "Well look, that's it with the engineering." And Professor Rasmussen tried to talk me out of it; he said "You know, you can do it, you can do it," but I just could not see that there was much of a career for me in that kind of area if that was what I had to do afterwards. Now of course if I had been dressed as he was, it probably wouldn't have been as bad. And so then Lincoln said "You've got to choose." They said "You've got to pick something." My better grades were in the sciences and mathematics and the chemistry again, I loved it. But the laboratory (laughter) just how I say it, the laboratory--did not know whether to put the water into the acid or the acid into the water. And the two--the operations do not commute. So one you get an explosion, you know. Thing say Pow!!! If you put the--$$So did you get it wrong, or did you--$$Oh, a couple of times I got it wrong (laughter). Put the water in the acid--Pow!! So I messed a couple of pair of pants; I only had about three or four pair, and that's all together so, you know, I just couldn't stay there, and I think the chemistry professor was a really good guy--Professor Rudd. I think he sort of agreed that I made the right decision (laughter). He agreed I made the right decision. So I went into mathematics which I say "Well this is what I choose as a major," but didn't know whether I was gonna work in it or not but I decided to choose that as a major because I had to choose something.$So at Howard University--Professor of Mathematics at Howard. Had they planned--well, when you got to Howard, did they--how soon was it before a plan was developed to create a PhD in Mathematics at Howard?$$I guess I got it--I arrived at Howard in 1971. In 1972, I was appointed, you know, Chair of the Mathematics Department and it was around that time that the president of the University, James E. Cheek, talked about expanding, you know, the graduate offerings, you know, in mathematics here. And so it was shortly after 1972--around probably 1973, I have one of the earl proposals--draft proposal, you know, for the doctorate, and I think that's 1973.$$Okay. Alright. So you came back, or you were invited back to Howard basically by a new administration, right?$$By a new administration, right.$$James E. Cheek.$$James Cheek, right.$$Okay. And he took over from James Nabrit.$$Right.$$So some of the things that you did at Howard since you came here, you developed both short-range and long-range programs for the Math Department, right? Strengthened the Mathematics Department faculty, wrote a proposal to offer PhD program; that's in '73 [1973], right?$$Right.$$And (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--It was around '73 [1973]; I'm not really sure. Seventy-three [1973], '72 [1972], '73 [1973], around there, but I think it was '73 [1973].$$Okay. And what was the university's thinking? That Howard was not really--had not really fulfilled its potential in mathematics before, or what?$$Well no, I think it was the vision of President Cheek, and he felt that, you know, that a first-rate university should have a strong mathematics program. I know that he was a visionary in that sense so I--but not only that, but in the other sciences as well. But physics and chemistry already had doctorates in mathematics, you know, at the time--physics and chemistry. In fact, chemistry was first and then I think shortly after that, there was physics.$$Okay.$$So it was just the president--it was part of the president's vision.$$Alright, so what did establishing a PhD program entail? What did you have to do?$$Well, first of all, as all new programs are concerned, there is a process that one has to go through involving getting the approvals at different levels. First, the graduate school; well, the graduate school has to approve the proposal, and then once that is done, getting the support from the different administrative offices, you know, at the university. But in our case, it was easier in the sense that the dean of the graduate school, this was Edward Hawthorne, the dean of the graduate school, was supportive of the program and of course the main support was from the president of the university.

William Massey

Mathematician William A. Massey was born in 1956 in Jefferson City, Missouri; the younger of two sons of Richard A. Massey, Sr. and Juliette Massey. Massey attended the public schools of St. Louis, Missouri and high school in University City, a suburb of St. Louis. Upon graduating from University City High School, Massey received a Harvard Book Award and a National Achievement Scholarship. He enrolled at Princeton University in 1973 and encountered his first real introduction to research mathematics in an honor calculus course taught by the late Ralph Fox. Massey wrote his undergraduate senior thesis, “Galois Connections on Local Fields,” under the direction of Bernard Dwork, and graduated from Princeton in 1977 with his A.B. degree in mathematics with honors – magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. Massey was then awarded a Bell Labs Cooperative Research Fellowship for minorities to attend graduate school in the department of mathematics at Stanford University. Massey wrote his doctoral theses, “Non-Stationary Ques,” under the supervision of Joseph Keller, and graduated from Stanford University in 1981 with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics.

In 1981, Massey became a member of the technical staff in the Mathematical Sciences Research Center at Bell Laboratories, a division of Lucent Technologies. His research there included queuing theory, applied probability, stochastic processes, and the performance modeling of telecommunication systems. Massey published over fifty papers in those areas, one of which credits him as the co-author of a U.S. Patent on server staffing. In the area of mentoring, Massey has organized every annual Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences, which he co-founded in 1995. He founded the Council for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (1996) and is a lifetime member of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM). In 2001, Massey was named the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations, Research, and Financial Engineering at Princeton University, making him the first tenured African American mathematician at an Ivy League University.

Massey received the Distinguished Service Award from NAM in 1996 and was invited to give its William W. S. Clayton Lecture. He has given invited lectures at the American Mathematical Society national conference, the Congreso Nacional de la Sociedad Matematica Mexicana, and the Edward Bouchet Conference for African and African American Physicists and Mathematicians that were held in Ghana, Canada, and Germany. The Blackwell-Tapia Prize Committee awarded Massey its 2006 prize and U.S. Black Engineer and Technology magazine honored Massey as the Black Engineer of the Year in 2008.

William A. Massey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.065

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/8/2013

Last Name

Massey

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University City High School

Princeton University

Stanford University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Jefferson City

HM ID

MAS08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Think outside the hypercube.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

9/4/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Piscataway

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steamed Crab Legs

Short Description

Mathematician William Massey (1956 - ) , co-founder of the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences, became the first tenured African American mathematician at an Ivy League University when he was named Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations, Research, and Financial Engineering at Princeton University.

Employment

Bell Laboratories

Princeton University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Massey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Massey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his mother's education and her career as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about his parents' employment in Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Massey describes his childhood's neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Massey describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Massey describes the sights, smells and sounds of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Massey describes his childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Massey discusses the portrayal of black scientists on television

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Massey describes his childhood toys

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his experience in grade school and his early interest in mathematics and drawing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Massey talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about the political atmosphere in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about his experience in a mixed-race schooling system

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about attending church as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Massey describes his involvement with church and in sports while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about his training in mathematics in school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Massey discusses his summer jobs, and his high school activities and achievements

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his decision to attend Princeton University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his experience at Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Massey discusses his concerns about education and violence in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about the misrepresentation of statistics in the media

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his mathematics coursework at Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his senior thesis on Galois connections on local fields

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his experience at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Massey talks about African American scientists at Bell Labs in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Massey describes the queueing theory and his dissertation research on non-stationary queues

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Massey talks about his Ph.D. thesis advisor, Joseph Keller

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his experience as a doctoral student at Stanford University and his summer experience at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about his contemporary generation of African American mathematicians

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Massey describes his decision to work at Bell Labs and explains the queueing theory

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about his research at Bell Labs in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Massey describes the concept of Jackson networks

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about other African American mathematicians at Bell Labs and in academia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his most significant research contributions at Bell Labs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Massey describes how his research has advanced the theory of dynamic rate queues

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his involvement in establishing the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (CAARMS)

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Massey describes his involvement in mentoring students

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - William Massey describes his research in congestion pricing, and his transition from Bell Labs to Princeton University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William Massey describes his decision to accept a professorship at Princeton University in 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his current research in decision-making, at Princeton University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William Massey talks about his involvement with the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) and the African American legacy at Bell Labs

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about his professional awards

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William Massey talks about his mentorship of African American students

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William Massey reflects upon his career's legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William Massey reflects upon his career's choices

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William Massey describes the role of African American organizations in discussing social issues

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$5

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
William Massey describes his current research in decision-making, at Princeton University
William Massey describes his decision to work at Bell Labs and explains the queueing theory
Transcript
So, now you continued to do research at a higher level here [Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey] according to all the paper citations I have on you in this album. I'm not sure it's not comprehensive. But can you just kind of summarize what your research has been here?$$Well, here it was getting into--well, moving over from the world of--well, at Bell Labs [New Jersey], they were called queueing theory performance modeling. So, what I call modeling is that, sort of the deliverable for a model is a forecast, you know. So a good model gives you--enables you to predict what goes on with the actual system. So I didn't do a lot of that. As I got to Princeton, I started moving into the area of decision-making. So, now the deliverable is, instead of a forecast, the deliverable is a policy. And so--and then for communications, there seems to be three different natural types of, well, areas we would develop decision-making policies, and just for alliteration sake since, you know, performance begins with the letter P, these three I called--well, first I just thought there were two, you know, provisioning and pricing. And so, now, if you're not obsessed with using the letter P, then provisioning; another way of saying provisioning will be design, you know; having just enough resources to make your customers happy. Pricing is--would be sort of like control, you know; how to--you use prices and mechanism to control the demand for the services, and then, you know, this gives you a way of--well, you have two things where, on one hand you want to maximum your profit, but on the other hand you don't want to violate the constraints of creating bad service. So you want to keep congestion constrained to be no higher than this level. So what's fun about, you know, being in an executive setting and having Ph.D. students, so you're, you know--so this is kind of the setting I gave to Robert [Hampshire; Massey's student who is now on the faculty of the School of Public Policy and Information Sciences at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] and I kind of had this nice picture, you know, of performance and then--performance for modeling, but then for issues of decision-making, the two Ps, you know, pricing, provisioning. Then a few months into it, he comes back to me and says, "Shouldn't there be a third P here?" "What do you mean?" "Well, I think there should be one on--but--well, later we were going to call it "prioritization." And you only think of that when you have multiple classes of customers. So you don't assume all the class--customers are the same. You know, they have different needs, they have--they can afford different levels of service; and so, how do you allocate these resources. What's the fairest way to allocate these resources among the different classes of customers? You know, so that's another issue, you know, paper we're still--what we developed, we have the paper but that's--one of my outstanding papers we need to finish up and write up and kick out the door. But we got some from out of the thesis, you know; through collaboration, we got some of the papers, you know, from it. And, so now what I'm doing with Jamal, is that we have these--well, it's an essential object that's called the dynamical system, which is the solution of ordinary differential equations. In the twenty-first century, thanks to the computers, these are easing things to solve. So, if you can formulate some more complicated system in terms of dynamical systems, you almost feel you have a closed form solution. And we used--with Robert I used this to approximate average behavior of these random systems. And then we would control that average behavior, so we'll see average profit through the average revenue. And so what's the strategy that optimizes that? But now, when you look at more stochastic systems--well, I have colleagues who were in finance. They worry a lot about decisions under risk. Because things aren't completely deterministic. There's a certain randomness involved. So there's a risk that occurs. But how do you maximize in the face of that type of risk? And so, it turns out you got to understand things like the variance standard deviation, and it turns out the formulas, we have to approximate those; (unclear) approximate those aren't quite as good as the ones that approximate the mean. So with Jamal, his thesis is developing new techniques. I guess he would say it's involving stuff like skewness approximation, cumulate moments; and give better estimates of the variants. So we could extend this sort of decision-making to, you know, deal with more uncertainty. You know, like, you want to maximize your profit, but you only want to take this level of risk. You know, how do you, you know, how do you do that? And then, now I have a most recent student, Jerome--major move I'm making now is that, up to now, everything has been related to communication, communication services; but I found writing up this, you know, in the act of writing up these papers I've done with Robert or, you know, having do up his thesis, I just realized that, when you look at communication services--okay, so--and, of course, when you're no longer working for a phone company, you know, you feel free to thinking about things outside of telephony. But what's communication services from a business perspective? It's sort of the leasing of shared resources. You know, with your cell phone. You don't buy a radio channel. You know, in effect, you're paying for the leasing of it through the rate of your conversation. And so, that's what we're studying in general, so like Robert is in a department of--I guess it's the School of Public Policy and Management [Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]. And, well, once I made this discovery, I was happy, you know, so I was telling Robert, you know, "You'll be happy to know that a set of tools--," since he's an expert in, you know, he trained to be an expert in queueing theory, "--a set of tools that help you study, you know, the leasing of shared resources, you know, may come in, you know, handy when you're looking at issues of public policy." And so, he's looked at them and applied to areas of transportation. Now, recently, what I've been doing is, a new area a lot of people in operations and research are getting excited by is health care, you know, because, like, in health care, you don't--you go to the hospital, you don't buy a hospital bed; you lease it for the duration of your stay. And then you have a lot more issues of, you know, coordination of different types of resources. So you have this whole elaborate choreograph of resources that all come to bear on your specific, you know, issue. And so, there's a lot of--there's a lot of room for queueing analysis, you know, there, because the problems are a lot more complex than--a lot of problems that's on the communication systems.$$Okay.$Okay. So 1981 when you finished Stanford [University, Palo Alto, California], did you have any doubt that you were going to be working for Bell Labs [New Jersey]? (laughs)$$Oh, no doubt.$$All right.$$Because it just seemed like such a, you know, a congenial environment. Also, I just got a chance to work on exciting problems, because I found that by focusing on this applied area looking at specific time varying queue, I as address the issues--the general theory of Markov processes didn't seem to be (touch it?).$$Okay. So you contributed something new to the field of mathematics--$$Yeah.$$--over in this dissertation?$$Oh, yeah. Just studying--there was a classic queueing model with people who are very familiar with constant rates. And so I developed the sort of approximate or asymptotic theory when you had time-varying rates. And then from this new insight I could show--well, basically show that you could, if you analyze things the old way, you might make a mistake a come in, you know, come with a misleading conclusion. Because you think of--well, okay. So you think of--well, we'll make it simple; where the service rate is constant, so that doesn't change; you just have (unclear) rate. And you think of it, it's like water coming to a bucket at a certain rate, and it goes out--let's make it easy; it goes out at a unit rate. It drains in unit rate, water comes in, okay. Now, if the water rate is always less than the unit rate, then the bucket never fills up. And that's kind of like steady-state behavior. But if the water, incoming rate, exceeds the draining rate, then the bucket will fill up; and then over time, it'll just go all the way up to infinity. So that's sort of the static situation. But what happens if the input rate changes in time? Well, what will happen is that, it may start off being less than the unit rate but later it becomes higher; but later it'll drop back down. And so, the actual level goes up, but it's not going to go all the way up to infinity, it's going to come back down. So the big question is: When does it come back down to zero? And people used to think, Well, this is what's going to happen when the input rate--the first time the input rate is less than the draining rate. Of course, if you try that, you'll realize that's not true. You know, it's sort of--kind of like turning on the bathtub and the water is coming in faster than the draining rate. The minute you turn off the faucet, you know, the water level doesn't drop to zero immediately; it's going to take some time. And so what I showed is that, to talk about stay-state behavior, you have to wait until the time it takes for that part to drain out. And then what I was really surprised about, this is just a couple years ago, I didn't realize that this phenomenon really describes what's been going on with our economy. You know, when people say, you know, after this recession that they--we started a "recovery," the recovery that didn't feel like a recovery? What does that mean? Well, what economists call a recovery is like when you suddenly turn off the faucet and the, you know, the rate at which jobs are disappearing becomes smaller than the rate at which jobs are being created (coughs). That's called a recovery. But this backlog of unemployed people, that doesn't suddenly disappear. So economists may say, when the input rate is less than the draining rate, you know, in terms of, you know, lost jobs, that's a recovery. But everyday people are not going to feel like it's a recovery until, you know, that level of water drops back down to zero. And that's kind of where we are right now. You know, we're getting closer, but we're waiting for that to happen.$$Okay. Okay.

Johnny Houston

Mathematician, education administrator, and research director Johnny L. Houston was born on November 19, 1941 in Sandersville, Georgia to parents Bobby Lee Harris and Catherine Houston Vinson. After graduating from Ballard Hudson High School in Macon, Georgia, Houston attended Morehouse College and graduated in 1964 with his B.A. degree in mathematics. Houston received his M.S. degree in mathematics from Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta University) in 1966 and then travelled to Paris, France to study at the Universite de Strasbourg. In 1974, Houston graduated with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Purdue University.

In 1975, Houston was appointed as the chair of the Atlanta University Math and Computer Science Department. During a leave period, he served as the Calloway Professor of Computer Science at Fort Valley State University. In 1984, Houston became the vice chancellor of academic affairs and professor of math and computer science at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). He was named senior research professor in the ECSU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in 1988. Throughout his career, Houston has held several positions as a specialist in mathematics and computer science, including serving as a member National Institute of Health’s MARC Committee from 1980to 1986, a member of the Board of Governors of the Mathematical Association of America from 1992 to 1995, and as a member of the Human Resource Advisory Group for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute from1993 to1998. In 1996, Houston established the Computational Science and Scientific Visualization (CSSV) Center at ECSU; and, in 2002, he established the African Studies (TLMP) at ECSU. Houston served as the director of both programs until 2008. Houston is a co-founder of the National Association of Mathematicians, Inc. (NAM), and served as NAM’s executive secretary from 1975 until 2000. Houston published The History of NAM, the First 30 Years; 1969-1999 in 2002 and is the author of more than forty books and articles on the science, mathematics, and education

Houston has received several awards and honors, including the University Of North Carolina Board Of Governors Teaching Excellence Award in 1996, NAM’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and the Purdue University BCC Pioneer Award in 2009. Houston has been included American Men and Women of Science, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, Who’s Who in America, and the World Directory of Mathematicians. In 2010, Houston was named professor emeritus at Elizabeth City State University after twenty-six years of service.

Houston is married to Virginia Lawrence. They have two daughters: Mave Talibra and Kaiulani Michelle.

Mathematician, education administrator, and research director Johnny L. Houston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.046

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/25/2013

Last Name

Houston

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Schools

Universite de Strasbourg

University of Georgia

Clark Atlanta University

Morehouse College

Ballard Hudson High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Day,s Evenings, and Weekends by pre-arrangment

First Name

Johnny

Birth City, State, Country

Sandersville

HM ID

HOU03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Expenses plus any expression of appreciation

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mountains, Water

Favorite Quote

Life Has Been Very Kind To Me And I Thank God For It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

11/19/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charlotte

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Mathematician Johnny Houston (1941 - ) was the founder of the Computational Science and Scientific Visualization Center and the African Studies Program (TLMP) at Elizabeth City State University, and co-founder of the National Association of Mathematicians, Inc. (NAM).

Employment

Elizabeth City State University

Fort Valley State University

Atlanta University

Savannah State University

Stillman College

E.E. Smith High School

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
0,0:1650,31:2050,36:7864,69:8432,81:8787,103:16263,159:25680,229:26527,239:30680,282:30920,287:33250,299:34580,320:37010,332:37226,337:37496,343:38198,361:38522,368:46712,525:47198,537:47792,577:74092,897:75316,924:80490,990:85610,1103:86410,1120:94338,1214:95778,1254:97650,1289:116910,1489:117944,1502:118414,1508:126570,1584:127082,1592:128960,1609:130013,1631:130580,1638:167410,2027:179230,2139:181550,2188:187556,2246:189404,2265:189789,2271:194071,2314:195312,2335:196261,2349:199794,2375:200410,2384:201026,2393:201796,2406:214886,2567:217180,2705:232622,2912:234008,2943:256190,3164$0,0:1052,23:1556,32:2132,41:2780,52:3788,64:6812,117:7604,130:9260,168:9836,178:10628,209:14690,253:15430,266:15948,275:28843,448:29427,456:31106,484:31690,493:32639,509:40714,627:41248,634:42583,653:49730,747:50110,753:50718,763:58492,845:59308,859:61416,896:62096,908:62368,913:62640,918:72349,985:73078,995:77614,1060:81016,1110:83203,1148:85309,1187:97454,1286:99041,1326:99662,1338:101525,1379:108102,1464:108613,1472:109416,1486:110073,1497:110365,1502:111241,1520:111971,1533:113358,1556:113869,1565:114234,1573:114599,1579:121071,1637:121339,1642:122076,1656:123282,1690:124890,1722:125158,1727:125761,1738:128496,1753:129134,1770:134054,1846:137740,1874:139500,1887:139820,1902:142560,1908:143190,1915:145529,1953:146770,1974:147281,1983:148084,1998:148814,2011:149690,2030:149982,2035:153121,2088:153559,2096:154946,2120:155457,2129:155749,2134:156114,2140:156406,2146:157282,2166:157793,2174:158888,2199:163710,2223:164070,2230:164310,2235:169401,2318:170404,2346:170640,2351:171584,2376:173590,2413:173826,2418:174062,2423:174947,2444:175360,2453:182313,2527:183072,2542:184176,2563:185211,2580:185625,2587:188329,2597:188753,2608:189707,2635:190608,2658:195790,2688:199273,2740:202594,2792:202918,2797:204538,2824:205429,2842:212372,2911:213054,2924:217008,2963:218599,2972:219180,2980:219927,2990:230205,3059:230545,3064:230970,3070:231310,3075:235143,3100:235827,3105:237260,3117:249854,3278:250178,3284:260376,3396:260880,3404:261456,3414:261888,3421:262176,3426:262680,3434:271715,3561:273173,3588:278250,3610
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Johnny Houston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about his mother and his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about growing up in the deep South

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his aunts' perception of Elijah Muhammad

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Johnny Houston talks about his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Johnny Houston talks about how his parents met and his father's career in the funeral business

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his grandmother's influence on him

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his grandmother, her influence in the community, and her employment

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about the black communities in Sandersville, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his interest in how things work and describes living in poverty during his early childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about his passion for learning and his elementary teachers' perceptions of him

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Johnny Houston talks about his uncle's service in World War II and the racial tensions of growing up in the South

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his involvement in Springfield Baptist Church while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about the impact of his grandmother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about his childhood jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about his sister's death, his family's move to Macon, Georgia, and living in the projects

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about the demographics of the projects of Macon, Georgia, and his education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his junior high school science teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his high school English teachers and the importance of communication skills

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about his science and math instruction in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his high school math teacher and his math instruction

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his extracurricular activities and working during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about graduating from high school, his decision to attend Morehouse College, and his financial hardships there

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about his financial hardships and his quest for work in Hot Springs, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his experience working at The Homestead luxury resort in Hot Springs, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his favorite vacation destination, Hot Springs, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his interest in math and science and his chemistry professor at Morehouse College, Henry C. McBay

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his professors, Claude B. Dansby and Henry C. McBay, at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his professors at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about Benjamin Mays - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about Benjamin Mays - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about Shirley McBay

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his memories of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about graduating from Morehouse College and his experience teaching high school mathematics in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about the professors at Atlanta University Complex, including Abdulalim Shabazz

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his thesis advisor, Lloyd Williams, and the area of topology in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his decision to study at the University of Strasbourg in France

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about learning French and his experience in France

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about learning French and his travels within the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his studies and his experience at the University of Strasbourg

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his travels through Europe

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his decision to teach at Stillman College and his experience there

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston describes his first exposure to computers, when he attended an IBM workshop to learn to program in Fortran

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about his memories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his assassination in 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston describes his experience at the Summer Institute for College Teachers of Math at the University of Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston describes his decision to pursue his Ph.D. degree at Purdue University, and talks about other African Americans who studied there

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his wife, Virginia Lawrence, whom he married in 1969

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about the establishment of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in 1969, and the reasons for its conception

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston describes the objectives of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), and the reasons for its conception

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his doctoral advisor, Eugene Schenkman, and his experience as a doctoral student at Purdue University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his doctoral advisor, Eugene Schenkman, and his experience as a doctoral student at Purdue University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his doctoral dissertation, titled, 'On the Theory of Fitting Classes in Certain Locally Finite Groups'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston discusses the impact of his doctoral dissertation, titled 'On the Theory of Fitting Classes in Certain Locally Finite Groups'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about how pure mathematics is the forerunner of applied mathematics

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his graduation from Purdue University

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about teaching mathematics at the Krannert School of Industrial Management at Purdue University

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston describes himself as a computational scientist

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Johnny Houston talks about his decision to become the head of the mathematics department at Atlanta University

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about becoming the National Secretary of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in 1975

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about training faculty at HBCUs to use computers in the 1970s

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston describes his experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1979

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about becoming the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Computer Science at Fort Valley State University in 1981

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his appointment as the vice chancellor of academic affairs at Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston describes the history of Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston describes his contribution towards the computerization of Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his publications on the general applications of mathematics

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston describes the growing application of mathematics and computer science in scientific research

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about the ease of scientific collaboration in the modern age of computerization

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston describes how he became involved in the President's Africa Education Initiative: Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston describes his contribution towards the President's Africa Education Initiative: Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston describes his collaboration with the University of Cheikh Anta Diop while working on the Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston describes the two different phases of the Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project in Senegal

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about teaching students to think critically to solve problems in mathematics - part one

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about teaching students to think critically to solve problems in mathematics - part two

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about the scientific contributions of Benjamin Banneker

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about Elbert Frank Cox, who was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in mathematics

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about Euphemia Lofton Haynes, Evelyn Boyd Granville and Marjorie Lee Brown

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about mathematician, J. Ernest Wilkins

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about the accomplishments of mathematician, David Blackwell

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about African American pioneers in mathematics, and the current occupational trends amongst African American mathematicians

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston describes his contributions to the field of mathematics, and shares his advice for aspiring mathematicians

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston reflects upon his choices

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about the Black Culture Center at Purdue University and the African Studies Program at Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his family

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$9

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Johnny Houston talks about his interest in math and science and his chemistry professor at Morehouse College, Henry C. McBay
Johnny Houston describes his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado
Transcript
Now, to Morehouse [College] to talk about the academics. Now did you decide on a major as a freshman?$$When I went to Morehouse as a freshman, I knew I had an analytical mind; I knew I had a curious mind and I told you I had had these two teachers who had mentored me in English in high school. And something annoyed me about them; they would tell me how to do things correctly and why to do it, and then I would find myself doing it and then they--"No, no, you can't do it at this point." I say "Why not?" They say "Because this is the exception to the rule; this is when the rule doesn't apply." (Unclear) "Oh no, this is the exception to"--I say "Well, if it's a rule, it should be a rule." And so I was not--and then in the social sciences, they were talking theories; this is such-and-such-a theory; this is this. I say "Wait a minute, either something is or it isn't." So I liked analytical things and the things that were pretty much straight forward, so I decided the freshman year when I went to Morehouse that I'm sure I'm gonna major in math or science because those--two and two is gonna be four, don't care what you do with it; they're not gonna change. As Mr. Thomas say, "If you heed this compound, this is gonna happen; it's not gonna be these exceptions they keep talking about." So I went there with the understanding that I would either major in mathematics or science because of my very nature, the nature of my mind and what I was most comfortable with. And so I took chemistry my first year there from a professor named Henry C. McBay, perhaps the most renowned African American chemist that we've had in the United States. And he really--he was the most exciting mentor I have had in college; teacher and scholar, he excited me; I took his class, general chemistry, 8:00 in the morning the first year I went to Morehouse. He had a lecture room with 125 seats in it and I would go there and I would sit up near the front; I wanted to hear and learn everything he had to teach. He was a fantastic teacher, great scholar, and he made chemistry come alive, and he excited me; I mean he excited me so much--and the other thing that made me excited was you knew he was a chemist. In the entire--I took two semesters of chemistry from him during my first year at Morehouse, and I only remember him bringing a note or a book to class only once. He was totally prepared mentally with all the details, and he went in there and he could teach chemistry; he knew chemistry and he could teach it. Now there were things in the room like we call the chart of elements [periodic table] and different things he would point to from time to time to refer, but notes he didn't bring. And he had boards that you--you could write on the board and then you could push it up in the air and then pull the other board down and write on it, and then over the other side it had--so we were trying to keep up with him with his writing. But he was a fantastic and inspiring teacher, and he is perhaps the greatest teacher that I have ever had; he inspired me to want to do science and to want to do it well, and I say if I ever taught, I wanted to be like Henry C. McBay.$Now, you did some work with the National Center for Atmospheric Research [NCAR], Boulder [Colorado] right?$$Yes. The idea was and this is one of the things I can never forget my grandmother [Ruth Houston] and mother [Catherine Houston Vinson] for this, they say you learn as much as you can and so what--I talked to some of the professionals--again NAM [National Association of Mathematicians] helped me on this. We were closed out. When I say we, African American mathematicians and scholars were closed out from a lot of the big research labs, a lot of things. But in the '70s [1970s] they start opening up and start letting blacks come out there for internships, or activities during the summer. And so we said, hey we got to take advantage of these things to learn. And they saw that as a forerunner for being able to hire them as full-time employees and also for us to start introducing the students to what they were doing. So, I went out there to Boulder, Colorado and there is something called NOOA, N-O-O-A. It was the National Center for Atmospheric Research, it's on the side of a mountain and it's fantastic. Every morning, five days a week, I had to get up that mountain to that and I had a window in my office and I could look over the mountains. And it was beautiful. In fact, sometime during the lunch hour we would climb some of the smaller cliffs out there--we called them flat irons--just for the heck of it. But that was a fantastic experience because that's when I really got into computer science. They had the first super computer I ever ran into. A large computer was the forerunner to the big super computer and they allowed us to work on it. And you talking about really crunching numbers and we were looking at data they were getting from the atmosphere. And one of the problems they wanted me to work on was unequally spaced data. It was easy to work on data that end up at exact spaces apart, but they found out then in the atmosphere it wasn't like you draw it on the board in the classroom. You had data that was unequally spaced and so the question is--to give an example, if you had one piece of data right here, another piece here, another piece there that was the same distance, well you always knew what was in the middle; it was half the distance between. But what if you got data where one was here then the next piece was there then the next jumped here, how did you handle that data because we needed to know the previous data in order to make predictions about the one up front. And so that was a big problem, how did you handle unequally spaced data. And that was a good computational science problem that I started working on there.$$Okay. Now, also this is at the National Center for Atmospheric Research? And so they had a super computer--this is your first experience with one, what was--can you describe what a super computer was like in '76 [1976]?$$What a super computer was like in '76, I hate to say, but it was like the desktop computers today.$$In terms of the power?$$Yeah. I mean, see in '76 [1976], the only thing that could give--if you had a five hundred and eighty megabytes or if you had one billion gigabytes, only super computers do that. Now you can get a gigabyte on your laptop but back then that was big news; I mean, that was speed. People talk, well wow, you were getting--I don't know whether you ever saw it but the computers back at that time people were talking about thirty-two, thirty-two megabytes or sixty-four, you were on the low computers they had. But you got five hundred and the gigabyte you are the super computer thing.$$Okay.

Sylvia Bozeman

Mathematician Sylvia Bozeman was born in Camp Hill, Alabama in 1947. She was the third of five children to Horace T., Sr. and Robbie Jones. Although her father worked with numbers daily in his profession as an insurance agent, it was her mother, a housewife, who first cultivated Bozeman’s love for mathematics. In 1964, Bozeman graduated valedictorian of Edward Bell High School in Camp Hill, and in the fall enrolled at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL. Bozeman graduated from Alabama A&M University 1968 with her B.S. degree in mathematics. She went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics, from Vanderbilt University in 1971 and Emory University (Atlanta) in 1980, respectively. The areas of her research and publications have included operator theory in functional analysis, projects in image processing, and efforts to enhance the success of groups currently underrepresented in mathematics.

Upon graduation, Bozeman worked for one year as an instructor of mathematics at Tennessee State University, and then joined the faculty in the Mathematics Department at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She began as an instructor in 1972, became assistant professor in 1980, an associate in 1984, and full professor in 1991. Moreover, Bozeman served as chair of the Mathematics Department from 1982 to 1993, as adjunct faculty in the Math Department at Atlanta University from 1983 to 1985. In 1993, Bozeman established the Center for the Scientific Applications of Mathematics at Spelman College, and served as director. In a special partnership between the mathematics departments of Spelman College and Bryn-Mawr College, Bozeman co-directs Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE), a national program that assists women in mathematics in making the transition from college to graduate school. In 2007 the EDGE Program was given special recognition by the American Mathematics Society for its effectiveness.

Her noted scholarly activities include several publications, funded research (by NASA, the US Office of Army Research and the Kellogg Foundation); and her recognitions, contributions, and services as a gifted teacher and presenter. Bozeman is a member of the Mathematical Association of American, and, in 1997, she became the first African-American elected as an MAA Section Governor in the association’s eighty-two year history.

Bozeman and her husband, Dr. Robert Bozeman, live in Alabama with their two children, Robert, Jr. and Kizzie.

Sylvia Trimble Bozeman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.209

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/18/2012

Last Name

Bozeman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Trimble

Occupation
Schools

Emory University

Vanderbilt University

Alabama A&M University

Edward Bell High School

Agreeable Hill Elementary

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sylvia

HM ID

BOZ02

Favorite Season

Christmas, Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

8/1/1947

Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Desserts

Short Description

Mathematician Sylvia Bozeman (1947 - ) was the founder and director of The Center for the Scientific Applications of Mathematics at Spelman College.

Employment

Spelman College

Favorite Color

Cranberry

Timing Pairs
0,0:1633,4:9814,168:22808,281:23400,291:33770,343:34378,352:39470,451:40306,464:40914,475:41522,484:42586,508:46998,529:47702,541:61300,632:61720,643:62070,649:90686,896:90974,901:91982,917:94820,944:95289,952:95825,961:97299,983:97567,988:97835,993:98974,1013:99577,1025:100314,1039:101319,1055:101922,1067:102525,1079:102860,1085:107950,1130:111252,1148:111644,1153:112624,1166:114388,1198:115074,1207:116152,1224:119420,1249:120540,1269:120890,1275:124166,1303:128198,1353:128870,1362:134660,1440:135015,1446:135299,1451:136080,1464:136435,1471:136932,1479:137216,1484:137784,1494:138352,1509:138991,1520:139488,1542:139914,1549:144265,1581:145455,1601:146050,1610:147070,1623:147750,1633:148345,1642:148855,1650:149365,1657:155110,1687:155540,1693:159800,1755:163384,1776:163632,1781:164190,1786:165678,1806:165988,1812:166856,1828:170769,1841:174127,1897:175952,1938:176755,1949:179164,1985:179602,1992:184330,2018:184630,2023:186418,2028:187450,2037:194220,2089:194580,2096:198250,2132:198600,2141:198900,2148:200000,2212:206422,2261:207038,2269:207500,2276:210126,2286:210866,2292:214420,2346:215260,2360:217290,2396:217640,2402:220020,2474:220440,2481:227930,2588:228338,2595:231126,2656:232214,2680:233302,2704:238801,2749:239560,2759:243010,2827:244459,2859:249829,2913:250224,2919:251093,2937:265140,3065:265748,3074:270915,3127:271467,3136:286070,3265$0,0:6940,50:7280,55:8470,76:9235,87:10085,98:12850,131:13178,136:21074,285:21419,291:24593,373:25145,382:25421,387:25697,392:26456,416:26732,421:27008,426:30527,543:41092,629:44331,697:45279,723:46701,746:47886,762:50256,803:51678,836:53653,874:62473,947:62821,952:63691,966:65344,997:69259,1056:69607,1061:69955,1066:71086,1085:91214,1261:93040,1269:97990,1319:105252,1440:111078,1467:112853,1500:113776,1521:114060,1526:119768,1594:120242,1602:120795,1611:121190,1617:124931,1637:132680,1727:133170,1738:133730,1747:135890,1753:139424,1834:139796,1841:140788,1862:141284,1871:145332,1908:148584,1949:151014,1990:151662,2001:152472,2014:153525,2026:154173,2035:154497,2040:155145,2049:157910,2060:159373,2081:163010,2101:163718,2120:164426,2134:164780,2141:165016,2146:165311,2152:170751,2224:171189,2232:171700,2245:172284,2255:173087,2267:173671,2277:175058,2304:176226,2326:177978,2351:180679,2400:181701,2418:182066,2424:191108,2513:192132,2538:192900,2550:202650,2682:203550,2695:223404,2935:224125,2944:232474,3006:232758,3011:235598,3063:238080,3070:238755,3080:239055,3088:239730,3098:240030,3103:241380,3132:250021,3248:251155,3269:251722,3278:252289,3286:252856,3294:254152,3314:254476,3319:255043,3327:256015,3342:257797,3368:259255,3404:263484,3428:263748,3434:264144,3442:264672,3452:265266,3463:265530,3468:265926,3475:266388,3488:266718,3494:266982,3499:274381,3525:274633,3534:275452,3551:276775,3572:277153,3580:277594,3588:278602,3606:278917,3612:279421,3622:280177,3637:281185,3665:283138,3699:286490,3712:288105,3732:289055,3745:289435,3750:289910,3756:290385,3762:292190,3791:294280,3834:296180,3865:308970,3942:309450,3949:310010,3957:311130,3975:312650,4007:313130,4014:313690,4023:314330,4030:315930,4060:317210,4087:317770,4096:318810,4113:328128,4229:328376,4234:329368,4256:329802,4267:330670,4288:332530,4330:333026,4339:333274,4344:333522,4349:334328,4372:334700,4379:335754,4404:336064,4410:337118,4431:341678,4457:342033,4464:342317,4469:342814,4478:344873,4525:345157,4539:346861,4571:347429,4580:351128,4617:352130,4625
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sylvia Bozeman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her father's education and career aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her elementary school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her family's involvement in the church

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her memories of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about how black schools were named

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her decision to attend Alabama A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about Alabama A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her introduction to mathematical research

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the political climate at Alabama A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman remembers her career aspirations during her college years

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her female math instructors

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her decision to attend Vanderbilt University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about integration at Vanderbilt University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her experience at Vanderbilt University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about teaching at Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her decision to attend Emory University for her Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her dissertation on operator theory

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her involvement with the black math community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about black women mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her post-doctoral employment prospects

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her career at Spelman College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the STEM initiatives at Spelman College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her professional memberships and awards

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her work at Spelman College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the evolution of Spelman's STEM programs under the leadership of Dr. Etta Faulkner

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her professional affiliations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the renovation of Tapley Hall

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the EDGE Program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her presentation at the Congressional Diversity and Innovation Caucus

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the government's inadequate support of STEM initiatives for HBCUs

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about black mathematicians

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the future of the EDGE Program

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about Bob Moses' Algebra Project

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman reflects upon her life choices

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her husband, a fellow mathematician

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her children

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Sylvia Bozeman reflects upon how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Sylvia Bozeman talks about her introduction to mathematical research
Sylvia Bozeman talks about her career at Spelman College
Transcript
Now Huntsville is now the sight of a, is a NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] center in Huntsville.$$Right. So Redstone Arsenal turned into Marshall Space Flight Center. And so that's one of the NASA sites. It was originally named Redstone Arsenal. But it is still the same NASA facility, evolved.$$Okay, so now it's the Marshall Space Center. So--$$Um-hmm. Robert worked out there when he, as a, you know sophomore, junior in college math major. He actually worked out there in the evenings as a, in an engineering position. That's what they called them, engineer.$$Okay. So this is, you really--did you follow the space program closely when you were growing up?$$I don't know that I followed it more close than anybody else but you know I was aware and I went out to, onto Redstone Arsenal. Actually my department chair, Dr. Howard Foster was a physicist and he had some connections out there and he hired me as a student research assistant to help him with some calculations and he took me out there and had them to give me access to a computer, a small computer, small meaning probably the size of that file cabinet over there but at that point it probably could do about as much as a little hand (unclear). But you know, but it was my first introduction to the idea of computing.$$Okay. So you learned how to--was the computer basically a big calculator or something that--?$$Yes, really. And I don't, I can't even remember how much I learned from being out there you know working on that because I didn't really have a lot of help. But I, you know I did help him with his calculations there and back in, back on campus using desk calculators to the point that he did acknowledge me in his paper when he published his results. And so you know that probably gave me my first introduction to research and then the next summer I can't--I would, and it must have been due to his influence but I ended up spending a summer at Harvard [University] in a summer program for students that came from minority institutions, mostly across the south. There was a summer program in Harvard in math. Well I guess it wasn't just in math. I was in math and some of the other students but some of the students were in other areas. So I spent a summer there and after that you know I was primed for graduate school. So I have to think that Dr. Foster influenced me to do these things. I can't imagine how else I would have ended up at Harvard in a summer program.$$Now what's his first name?$$Howard Foster.$$Okay, oh Dr. Howard Foster.$$Uh-huh.$$And he was, he taught physics and math at--?$$He was chair of the math and physics department. It was one department but he was a physicist and he taught physics.$$Now did he teach you calculus?$$No, just physics. He only taught physics but he was the chair of the--it was a combined department.$$So, but you had calculus I guess for the first time in--?$$I had calculus at Alabama A & M with Dr., I'll think of that in a minute. His name just slipped right out of my head. I had a Cuban calculus professor, Castillo, Dr. Castillo. He was one of my favorite teachers too, C-A-S-T-I-L-L-O.$$Okay.$$Dr. Castillo, so he taught all of us calculus, my husband, taught my husband calculus too.$Okay. Now I have this on the outline in 1977, is this when you founded the Center for Scientific Application of Mathematics?$$No, that happened in 1993 so I'm not sure.$$Okay, all right. I think I got it in the wrong place.$$'77 [1977], I'm trying to see what--$$Well lets not worry about that now and--$$Okay. I don't know what happened in '77 [1977]. I was trying to remember what that would have been.$$But I know that after, it sys here--$$I probably went back to graduate school in '77 [1977], I guess.$$Yeah, you had been working on your Ph.D.?$$Uh-huh, I went back in '76 [1976].$$Okay, but in '82 [1982], this is two years after your Ph.D., you became the chair of the math department here.$$Right, like I said more responsibilities, right? So it's unusual to, I thought it was unusual for somebody to be, have two, be two years out of graduate school and then become chair of the math department but that's what happened.$$Well in a time when you know technology and the science and technology are leaping forward, what--did you have--I mean what were your priorities as chairman of the math department at Spelman [College] in '82 [1982]?$$In--so I guess it was 1980 when I was finishing up. I think that--I guess I have my dates right. I had a student named Daphne Smith and she went, left Spelman and went to MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, private research university] in math and she got a Ph.D. in math and probability. And it was a realization, it was--she was the first student out of this department, math department to get a Ph.D. in math. And I think it made us start to think more about our--the need for more of our students to go on to get Ph.D.s in math and it was a realization all across the sciences here, that not just math but in all of the sciences, we needed to put more emphasis on having students to go on to graduate school and to get Ph.D.s. And so we started an all out effort to do that and that was one of my priorities during the time I was chair to get more of our students into graduate school and more of them to earn Ph.D.s.$$Okay. All right, now was the department in pretty good shape when you inherited the chair, chairmanship?$$In terms of good shape you mean in terms of the number of faculty and number of students or--?$$I guess in terms of the--you had just come out of a Ph.D. program. Were they up to, you know was it up to speed the way you would like it to be when you came out?$$In terms of the curriculum?$$Right.$$I think, we had a pretty strong curriculum because see when I was taking over as chair I was taking over from Dr. Etta Faulkner who had been chair and she was top notch.$$Right, now I've heard of her before.$$Oh yes.$$Yeah.$$So she--$$Tell us something about her. Now what's her background and--$$She, I can't remember what year she came to Spelman, maybe it's '69 [1969] but she finished her Ph.D. at Emory [University] and she was, came here and became chair of the math department and Dr. Shirley McBay was also here, another black woman mathematician and Shirley became associate dean or something like that. She was you know, one step up. No, and chair of the science division. That's what Shirley was and the dean. And so the two of them had already, when I came they had already started looking at the fact that only 10 percent of our students were in math and science at Spelman and they thought that there needed to be more, that we needed to really put more effort into getting women into science. So--and some of what I'm about to say I'm thinking, I'm taking from an article that Dr. Faulkner wrote about the history of the sciences at Spelman and she talks there about how the science building was dark and dreary and there was no talk about women being in science and math on campus, nothing appeared in our literature about it. And they talked the president into starting a new era to try to change that. And they started a summer science program to try to bring, get these women who were coming into the school into the sciences at the very beginning and they did all kinds of things to try to improve the sciences and they did. And so they got the whole faculty on board so whatever we did it was not in the math department it was all across the sciences. We worked together to try to increase the number of students that were going on to, that were coming into the sciences in the first place and graduating with a BS and then by the time I came along as chair in the 80s [1980s], it was now okay, how many of these students can we get to go on to graduate school and to get Ph.D.s in math and science?

Donald Frank St. Mary

Mathematician and academic administrator Donald Frank St. Mary was born on July 22, 1940 in Lake Charles Louisiana. He attended McNeese State College (Louisiana) as an undergraduate and completed his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1962. St. Mary went on to earn his M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Kansas in 1964 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska in 1968. As a graduate Ph.D. student he worked as an instructor at the University of Nebraska, and then at Iowa State University.

In 1968, St. Mary was hired by University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMASS) as an assistant professor in the physics department. His early efforts to build the department and attract research funding to the university resulted in a promotion to associate professor in 1975 and subsequently to full professor in 1983. St. Mary also worked closely to advance the education of minority students. Between 1969 and 1974, he implemented an arithmetic skills course that helped build students’ knowledge of computational analysis. During the summers between 1975 and 1981, he developed a two-week course, “What is Calculus About?” for sophomore and junior level high school students. When the university was in session he directed the Minority Engineering Program which assisted students in the academic support program with their calculus coursework. In 1992, he created and organized the Science Enrichment Program at the University of Massachusetts. The five-week residential program was designed to enrich minority high school student’s’ experiences with science curricula in a college environment.

In 1994, St. Mary was selected by faculty in the department of mathematics and statistics at UMASS to be its principal academic leader with executive responsibility for all aspects of the department, and after receiving approval from from Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics he was appointed department head. During his career, St. Mary was awarded research grants totaling $600,000 from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. He was awarded institutional grants, all in some manner to support minority students, totaling $7 million from the NSF and the National Cancer Institute. From 1968 to 2002, St. Mary served on the Board of Directors for the Committee for the Collegiate Education of Blacks and Other Minority Students, holding various offices including vice chairman and chairman.

St. Mary is internationally renowned for his research in Computational Ocean Acoustics. He has been invited to lecture in Accra, Ghana, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Dublin, Ireland. St. Mary has authored, co-authored, and edited scholarly works for distinguished publications such as Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Journal of Computational Physics, and Journal of the American Acoustical Society.

Donald Frank St. Mary was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on [10/08/2012]

Accession Number

A2012.214

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2012

Last Name

St. Mary

Middle Name

Frank

Schools

University of Nebraska-Omaha

University of Kansas

McNeese State College

Sacred Heart High School

Sacred Heart / Saint Katharine Drexel School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Donald

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

STM01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York, San Francisco, California, Washington, D.C.

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/22/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Amherst

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician and academic administrator Donald Frank St. Mary (1940 - )

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Iowa State University

University of Nebraska

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donald St. Mary's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his Creole ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his childhood neighborhood and his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his elementary school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in math

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his childhood jobs and career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his high school experience and involvement in sports

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his participation in Civil Rights organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary reflects on his high school experience

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his decision to attend McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about the social climate of McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies at McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Donald St. Mary talks about his college mentors and his decision to attend the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his professors at the University of Kansas and his teaching philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in computer-based mathematics and his decision to leave the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies and his mentor at the University of Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary describes his dissertation with differential equations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about how he was appointed to the faculty at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his peers and his mathematical discovery

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his research and teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about perceptions of mathematicians

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about the "What is Calculus About?" summer program

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his research and grants

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about the academy's shift towards a focus on teaching

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his transition into computer-based mathematics

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his research on underwater wave propagation

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his excitement for his research

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about his use of super computers

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about the Housing Allowance Project

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Donald St. Mary talks about being appointed chair of the math department

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about the Science Enrichment Program

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about David Blackwell and being honored by the National Association of Mathematics

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about black mathematicians

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his teaching philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his grant projects

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about his retirement from research

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his community activities

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his draft card

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary reflects on his career

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary describes his photos

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$8

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in computer-based mathematics and his decision to leave the University of Kansas
Donald St. Mary talks about the Science Enrichment Program
Transcript
I can tell you a little more about that. I was interested in computers. Now, eventually, my career moved into computers, computer-based mathematics. But way back then, computers were a new thing. So I took the only two computer-based mathematics courses they had in the department. This was so new. I took them because I wanted to go into computer mathematics. Well, I programmed at that point one of the earliest computers, an IBM 650. You use punch cards on this computer. You put your stack of cards on it. I could sit at the console and see what command it was executing. I could stop it. Now, a modern computer executes millions of commands in a second, all right. So (laughter), but I could stop the machine, and it would show me which command it was working on. Okay, the faculty member, he was the only one who did computer mathematics, he ran the computer facility, the one I'm telling you about, the research computer stuff. You put your machines on there, your cards on the card reader. He taught me a whole year's course. I wanted to be in this area. It is the area I eventually came to many, many years later. But I decided I could not work with him. He was too busy. After having him for a year, two whole semesters in a graduate-level course and seeing him, you know, three days a week, I knew that wasn't gonna work, even though he knew I was interested. He told me he would like for me to stay at the University of Kansas. He said he would support me. I decided not to stay because I knew I was gonna have trouble. He was extremely busy. He, he didn't grade our homework papers himself. He had a teaching assistant grading the papers. That was fine, but I knew I could not complete a PhD which is a major, major undertaking under somebody who could barely give me the time of day (laughter). That wasn't gonna work. And so I started looking for other institutions. First, institutions that had computer-based mathematics. That was almost non-existent in '62' [1962] and '63' [1963]. But I ended up transferring to the University of Nebraska.$$Now, had you received your Masters already at--$$It turns out I hadn't, but I completed it that fall.$$Okay.$$I hadn't, you had to finish your Masters thesis, and have an oral exam on your Masters thesis. So those things weren't done. They were done in the fall when I was officially then, a student at the University of Nebraska. But my MA degree came from the University of Kansas. And I completed my dissertation and had my oral exam. And so now, I'm at the University of Nebraska, but my focus has been in analysis, all right, the, my dissertation is in one of the branches of analysis, Integration. The computer mathematics that I was studying, it's in analysis. And so it was natural, when I got to the University of Nebraska to focus on analysis. Analysis there focused on differential equations. So I started taking advanced differential equations courses, and any--several of them, several different kinds. And so I was a teaching assistant there. I taught freshmen, largely.$Yes, now, we neglected to go over the, to talk about the SEP Program. That started in '92' [1992], National Cancer Institute awards you a five-year, $3 million grant for a science enrichment program.$$Yes, that was a phenomenal thing. SEP stands for Science Enrichment Program. The goal is to try to move minority students and underserved students, so students who may not be a minority, but be in a community where their--communities where their development would not be very robust. Enter the sciences. Now, the National Cancer Institute, of course, would like for them to be biological scientists. But I didn't care about that (laughter). I wanted to move them into the sciences. You have to be a scientist before you can be a biological scientist at some level in any case. And so I designed this program. It brings rising, ninth grade students from all over New England and Upstate New York, as far away as Buffalo and all of that, to this campus for a five-week residential program. And there are six areas of study that are studied extensively. Each area of study, the six areas are biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics and language arts, okay. So you have five science areas and one non-science area, language arts. These were structured courses. Each course was taught by a professor and a high school teacher. The professor may come from here or I may have gotten him from other institution, but they were professorial status, and I told these professors, to design courses that are not in the high school curriculum. Don't want anything that's in high school that they're gonna learn next year. Said, you design a course for, for students that they can understand and learn from, but I want it to be serious, and it needs to--if you can bring in research, bring it. And they did miraculously. I was, I was really impressed with the faculty and the high school teachers. They worked hand-in-glove. They designed the courses. Usually, the professor designed the course before the high school teacher got here. I found the best high school teachers I could find anywhere, from Chicago, from wherever. I had a fantastic chemistry high school teacher from Chicago. And, now, had a full residential staff, counselors that worked with the students directly. I had senior staff, residents' hall staff and a full program, all activities, all day were planned. And it was enormously successful.$$Were the students from the Boston area or from Springfield or, you know, cities in Massachusetts mainly or--$$No, we couldn't do that. We certainly had some from those areas, those large geographical areas. But because this, we were supposed to be covering a broad geographical area. So we definitely had students from those (unclear), from Springfield, from Hartford, but we also had students from Maine, from Upstate New York, from Buffalo, as I mentioned. And so it was largely populated by minority students, black students, Hispanic students and some American Indian students. But I just considered it enormously successful. Everybody who interacted with it just thought it was phenomenally good.$$How many years did you do this?$$We ran it five years or was it six years? (Laughter) Am I having a senior moment?

Raymond L. Johnson

Mathematician Raymond L. Johnson was born on June 25, 1943 in Alice, Texas, a small town near Corpus Christi. He was raised by his mother Johnnie Johnson, his maternal grandmother Ethel Pleasant Johnson, and her second husband Benjamin Thompson. Growing up, it was Benjamin Thompson who taught Johnson how to read and do some arithmetic. This sparked an early interest in mathematics and allowed Johnson to skip the first two grades. Johnson attended a two room schoolhouse because the nearby grade school was segregated. With the help of his mentors, Larry O’Rear and Stan Brooks, Johnson excelled in high school mathematics. He went on to major in mathematics and received his B.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1963.

Once again, with the help and encouragement of a great mentor, Dr. Howard Curtis, Johnson applied and became one of the first African Americans to be admitted to Rice University. Two alumni sued the university to stop Johnson’s entrance, but within the year, Rice University won the case. Johnson became a regular student, graduating with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1969. After college, Johnson started his forty year career at the University of Maryland in College Park, becoming the first African American faculty member in the mathematics department. He began as an assistant professor in 1968 and became a full professor in 1980.

Johnson served as chair of the graduate studies department at the University of Maryland from 1987 to 1990. As chair, he founded several programs to eliminate barriers for minority students and to help increase the number of minorities and women in the Ph.D. program in mathematics. He received a Distinguished Minority Faculty Award for his work. Johnson was promoted to chair of the mathematics department in 1991, a position he held for five years. Johnson’s mathematical work has focused in the area of harmonic analysis, the study of overlapping waves, which has roots in functions related to trigonometry. He has contributed to over twenty-five publications on mathematics research. Johnson’s current research focuses on applying harmonic analysis to study spectral synthesis. In 2007, Johnson was honored with the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2009, Johnson returned to Rice University to serve as a visiting professor. He has one son, Malcolm P. Johnson.

Raymond L. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 17, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.193

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/17/2012

Last Name

Johnson

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

L

Schools

Dubose Intermediate

Carver Elementary

William Adams High School

University of Texas at Austin

Rice University

First Name

Raymond

Birth City, State, Country

Alice

HM ID

JOH41

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe

Favorite Quote

Don't look back. Someone might be gaining on you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

6/25/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician and math professor Raymond L. Johnson (1943 - ) led the way for minority scientists by breaking through barriers and serving as a mentor. He is known for his research on harmonic analysis and spectral synthesis.

Employment

University of Maryland, College Park

Rice University

Howard University

ESSO PRDD RES

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:3932,40:4336,45:14248,198:19240,343:19752,358:20584,383:20904,389:22056,421:22696,432:24360,479:24744,493:30828,557:31158,563:31554,574:35646,666:38484,724:46572,844:47694,884:53080,986:53610,1007:53875,1013:54140,1020:54511,1028:54935,1039:55147,1045:56419,1075:57691,1113:81970,1481:83570,1658:84210,1667:95362,1799:101581,1831:118144,2186:118540,2193:119002,2202:119464,2228:120784,2262:121048,2267:122038,2288:122830,2303:123424,2327:128638,2480:139286,2623:139700,2645:147840,2757:148980,2776:150360,2889:161820,3154:162900,3179:163560,3194:173308,3287:185697,3529:189055,3613:191318,3650:192048,3663:193143,3683:193654,3696:204320,3836$0,0:3165,82:5960,168:8040,231:9470,259:9730,264:10185,272:10965,290:12785,337:22852,541:25690,605:30178,755:30838,768:37690,817:38950,861:40750,921:42790,1016:43210,1026:47784,1077:48894,1097:49264,1103:49782,1112:50078,1117:50522,1130:50966,1137:53260,1188:55110,1233:55776,1247:56220,1259:59402,1327:59698,1333:59994,1339:69124,1467:69392,1472:74350,1648:76628,1680:80715,1803:82591,1841:82993,1848:83395,1855:83998,1871:85070,1934:97691,2107:98160,2120:98562,2127:101175,2184:102314,2215:114356,2436:115742,2467:117656,2513:119372,2556:123080,2571:127505,2682:129155,2718:129455,2723:131255,2753:131555,2758:136560,2848
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Raymond Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Raumond Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson describes his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes his mother's life in Alice, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson discusses similarities and differences from his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson describes growing up in Alice, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson describes his family in Alice, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Raymond Johnson describes his early school-days

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience in a newly-integrated school system

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson describes growing up during segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson discusses the sports heroes of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes those who influenced his decision to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience in high-school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience at the University of Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience with the American Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson describes the mentorship he received in high school and college

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson describes the post-Sputnik climate in the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Raymond Johnson shares pleasant memories from the University of Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Raymond Johnson describes the summer of 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes his first year at Rice University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson shares his thoughts on the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson describes his relationship with NFL player, Frank Ryan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes his experiences at Rice University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience with his graduate advisor, Jim Douglas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson describes his Ph.D. dissertation research

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson describes his transition from graduate school to his first job

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson describes the tension following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience at the University of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes his brief experience at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson describes his service as the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson describes his service as the chairman of the mathematics department

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes collaboration among African American mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson discusses prominent African American mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson talks about the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson talks about the first generation of African American mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson reflects upon his legacy at the University of Maryland and at Rice University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes one of his successes as a mentor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson discusses meeting Ron [Ronald] Walters

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson discusses his concerns for African American mathematicians

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson describes his relationship with Freeman Hrabowski

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson talks about his son

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson's reflects upon how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Raymond Johnson describes his experience in high-school
Raymond Johnson describes his experience in a newly-integrated school system
Transcript
Okay, now, I don't wanna get you out of high school yet.$$Okay.$$But we'll go back to, to high school [at Williams Adams High School, Alice, Texas] for a second. Now, did you, were you involved in clubs and stuff in high school or run for student government or--$$No, not for student government. But I was involved in clubs. So this is the National Honor Society, 'cause I mean I think that was, I don't know what the conditions were for getting in it, but, you know, I was a member of the National Honor Society. And that's where I met like, you know, other people who were very, very smart and who also were very competitive. I mean, you know, I remember the competition for valedictorian, for example, of Alice High School. I was not involved in the competition, but I was observing it. And, you know, having people sort of take easy classes and try to make sure they could keep their grade point average up and have a better chance of being valedictorian. I mean I remember that was sort of the first time I learned about, you know, that sort of social aspect of learning. I thought you just went to school and you did the best you could and, you know, and you graduated, and then you go on and keep doing the best you can. But there were actually these people who were competing to be valedictorian.$$Okay, and--$$And they were all in National Honor Society.$$And strategizing what kind of class they're gonna take to--$$Yeah, yeah.$$--to get there.$$--to make sure that they had the highest GPA [Grade Point Average].$$Okay,--$$And no socializing. I mean, you know, I don't remember prom, you know, or anything like that. But did go to the football games for the Alice Coyotes, you know, football team. It was a long walk, but, you know, it was worth it. And socializing in that sense.$$Okay. So the foot--the high school was named William Adams--$$William Adams, yeah, and the Alice Coyotes was the football team.$$Okay, so they, okay, all right. So they called the football team, not the Adams' Coyotes, but the Alice Coyotes?$$The Alice Coyotes.$$Okay (laughter), all right.$$It was for the whole city.$$All right. Now, football is, when you think of football, people think of Texas for some, you know, some reason.$$Yep, Friday night.$$High school, Friday night lights and all that sort of thing. So what, was it really big in Alice?$$Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, well, first of all (laughter), there's nothing else to do in Alice, okay. So, I mean it was really big, and, you know, for a kid like me who didn't have any money, I mean getting into the game was non-trivial. I climbed a fence a few times to get into the game, but sometimes after halftime, they'd sort of let you into the game. So, you know, we, it wasn't, I don't remember like them saying, okay, because you go to, here, here's a free pass because you're a student at Alice High School. I mean there was supposed to be like a two dollar or dollar charge or something like that. So sometimes I'd just go to the game and wouldn't actually get to see the game. But the team, you know, I think they competed for the state championship. They had some very good players. I don't, don't remember their names or exactly how well they did, but they, they had a very good football team.$$Okay, any players make--$$The only one I remember, I think was a quarterback named Len Baillets (ph.), but, you know, I don't think he did very much in college or anything like that, but he was the star of the Alice football team.$$Okay, all right, so when you graduated, did you, did they tell you what rank you were or anything?$$You know, I was, I was the top ten. But that's all I remember. And, and that was the last graduation I attended. So I actually did go to my graduation in high school.$$Okay, but you didn't go to any of the rest of 'em?$$Nah.$Okay, yeah, tell us, now, what happened next in school now? You're, you're--$$So after eighth grade, Alice [Texas] didn't have enough black students, and so the Alice school district had an arrangement with the Kingsville [Texas] school district. So grades nine through twelve were bused from Alice to Kingsville which is twenty-eight miles, and I knew classmates who had ridden the bus and had gone to school in Kingsville. And I was looking forward to it 'cause in a sense, it's a chance to get out of Alice, at least for a, for a day, every day. But 'Brown versus Board' was decided, and the Alice school district decided to live up to it, accept 'Brown versus Board'. So I spent ninth grade in DuBoise [DuBoise Junior High School, Alice, Texas], which is the first time I'd gone to an integrated junior high school, I mean it was junior high school at that time. So you just went for ninth grade, and then high school was William Adams [Williams Adams High School, Alice, Texas], grade ten through twelve, which was also integrated.$$Okay.$$DuBoise was-I was, it was lucky for me in the sense that the main thing that I recall that happened to me at DuBoise was they discovered that I couldn't see. You know, in Alice, in this two-room school, the boards were very close, and so, you know, it was a very small room, four, four, four grades cramped into one room. So I didn't have any problem seeing everything. But then when I went to DuBoise, you're in this classroom, and, you know, there's thirty seats in a room and the board up at the front. And I couldn't see. So I got glasses, and that I think (laughter) helped a lot 'cause that meant I could see what was actually going on in class.$$Do you remember how you discovered, how, how it was discovered you couldn't see?$$No, I don't remember, but, you know, somehow I, I wasn't seeing what was on the board, and so they, they sent me, they told my, told my mother that I need to have an eye test. I had an eye test, and they discovered I needed glasses.$$So the teacher noticed it.$$Yeah, the teacher noticed it.$$Okay, all right. So, what was the racial makeup of--after integration for, I guess, DuBoise?$$You know, two or three blacks in a class of thirty, yeah, yeah, 'cause we, we were, it was a--there was a tight-knit black community, but it was very small. It was very small.$$Okay. And there wasn't a lot of rancor or problems, I guess, would you say?$$There was some resentment, you know. There were some kids who muttered some things and stuff like that, but, you know, mostly, it was uneventful. Let's say it like that. I mean, you know, the black kids would hang together, and the white kids still hung together. So it, it was more like two separate worlds that were colliding but really not paying much attention to each other. That's the way I recall it.

Arlie Petters

Mathematician, physicist and business professor Arlie Petters was born on February 8, 1964 in Dangriga, Belize. As a child, he lived with his grandparents and was captivated by the mystery of the skies. In 1979, Petters left Belize to live with his mother in the United States. After graduating from Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, New York, Petters enrolled at Hunter College. Family problems left Petters homeless, but he received a Minority Access to Research Careers Fellowship that allowed him to stay in school. In 1986, Petters graduated from Hunter College with his B.A/M.A. interdisciplinary degree in mathematics and physics. He continued his studies with a dual concentration in mathematics and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning his Ph.D. degree in 1991. His doctoral thesis was entitled “Singularities in Gravitational Microlensing." During the summers of 1986 to 1991, Petters worked as a Corporate Research Fellowship Program (CRFP) Fellow at Bell Laboratories.

Following graduation, Petters became an instructor of pure mathematics at MIT. In 1993, Petters joined the faculty of Princeton University as an assistant professor of mathematics. He served as the co-director of graduate studies in mathematics from 1996 to 1998. Petters left Princeton in 1998 to join the faculty of Duke University as the William and Sue Gross Associate Professor. Petters was the lead author of the book, Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing in 2001, which outlined the first single mathematical theory to explain gravitational lensing. He became a full professor in 2003 and was the first African American at Duke University to receive tenure in the mathematics department. In 2005, Petters founded the Petters Research Institute to train Belizean students in the STEM disciplines. In 2008, he received a triple appointment to the departments of mathematics, physics and business administration, and in 2009, he was awarded the Benjamin Powell endowed chair. In 2010, Petters was appointed to serve as chairman on the Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize.
He also served as visiting professor at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Oxford University, Harvard University, Princeton University and was a Martin Luther King Jr. visiting professor of physics at MIT.

Petters has received numerous awards including the Sloan Research Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Early Career Grant Award. He was the first recipient of the Blackwell-Tapia Prize in Mathematical Science. He also received much recognition for his philanthropic efforts in Belize including the Award for Service to the Educational Development of Belize from the Friends in Support of the Diocese in Belize. Petters was also named by the Queen of England to Membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Petters served on the Board of Governors for the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications and on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. Petters lives with his wife Elizabeth Petters in Durham, North Carolina.

Arlie Petters was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 21, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/21/2012

Last Name

Petters

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

O

Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Hunter College

Canarsie High School

Ecumenical High School

Epworth Methodist School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Arlie

Birth City, State, Country

Dangriga

HM ID

PET08

Favorite Season

Easter

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

Favorite Vacation Destination

Belize

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

2/8/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Durham

Country

Belize

Favorite Food

Belizian Food

Short Description

Business professor, mathematician, and physicist Arlie Petters (1964 - ) is a foremost scholar on gravitational lensing and has served as chairman on the Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize since 2010.

Employment

Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize

Duke University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Petters Research Institute

Princeton University

Bell Laboratories

Harvard University

Oxford University

Max-Plank -Institut fur Astrophysik

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Aquamarine

Timing Pairs
0,0:8248,102:9205,122:9640,129:11815,161:14077,189:16252,216:20630,221:20902,226:21310,233:22580,241:22796,246:23120,253:23660,265:24470,282:27548,312:28276,322:30005,339:34250,366:35212,385:39344,429:40010,440:40380,446:44154,493:44598,501:45264,513:45930,531:46448,539:55360,624:55700,630:56108,637:59690,676:60284,686:63830,718:64390,727:64670,732:66000,756:73924,875:74304,881:76508,924:77800,947:79016,962:87472,1019:89932,1056:90342,1062:91080,1070:91572,1079:91900,1084:96896,1113:99794,1173:100553,1187:100829,1192:102278,1210:104762,1249:105038,1254:106694,1282:115682,1341:116204,1348:116639,1355:117161,1362:120718,1394:121250,1403:125126,1470:126874,1501:131974,1560:132309,1566:133113,1584:133381,1589:133716,1595:139010,1677:139285,1684:140055,1704:144570,1743:145811,1764:146103,1769:147198,1784:147709,1792:148512,1807:152381,1868:153038,1879:153622,1889:156177,1929:160050,1934:161342,1955:162820,1965:163440,1979:163688,1984:165362,2017:165672,2023:166602,2037:177880,2205:179076,2232:179628,2239:184008,2268:186000,2300:194453,2388:195246,2405:206454,2490:207138,2507:207898,2519:208810,2534:209266,2541:213368,2572:213763,2579:215264,2608:215580,2613:216291,2620:223720,2670:225448,2708:225768,2714:226152,2721:227176,2738:227624,2747:231220,2776:232155,2799:232495,2804:234365,2821:238520,2849:239240,2858:239690,2864:245370,2899$0,0:4942,56:14614,209:29616,343:35940,408:36770,421:37600,434:37932,439:38264,444:39924,464:42348,476:42684,481:43272,490:44868,517:45624,527:46464,539:47052,547:48144,566:51504,610:56348,634:56866,642:57384,650:61592,670:65204,726:66064,737:66666,746:67182,753:71052,806:71912,818:76452,833:76988,843:77256,848:77993,861:78328,867:78998,879:79601,889:80338,902:80740,910:81611,924:87611,990:87887,995:88163,1000:89267,1019:91613,1066:91889,1071:94925,1131:95201,1136:97478,1168:103472,1215:104011,1224:104627,1233:106244,1265:109401,1317:110248,1329:111095,1343:111634,1352:112327,1362:112866,1370:118234,1408:130130,1592:130930,1605:135220,1629:136564,1646:137404,1658:139252,1733:142995,1760:150924,1845:153024,1875:153444,1881:154536,1898:155964,1918:157728,1955:161256,1997:165770,2006:166546,2016:167516,2028:170664,2062:171273,2070:171708,2079:172230,2086:172839,2100:175394,2113:176447,2123:179555,2132:180505,2144:185640,2183:186240,2190:186940,2198:187340,2203:187840,2209:188340,2215:188840,2221:196389,2280:196827,2288:197484,2298:202210,2363:205430,2400:209106,2445:209354,2450:209974,2461:210346,2468:214240,2511:214520,2516:214940,2523:216200,2551:216690,2560:217600,2579:218020,2587:220470,2638:223620,2713:230266,2784:233906,2833:240356,2884:241778,2910:242568,2923:245017,2956:246044,2971:248730,3015:253148,3036:253756,3048:254212,3055:260102,3123:265604,3170:270507,3220:270823,3225:271297,3233:272087,3246:275588,3262:276080,3270:276490,3276:276982,3284:277392,3290:278048,3299:278786,3313:281738,3349:282066,3354:282476,3360:283624,3377:284198,3386:284854,3400:286658,3425:291188,3448:291416,3454:294320,3476
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arlie Petters' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters describes his biological father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his stepfather, Cecil Petters

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters describes his grandmother, Bernice Waight

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his mother's immigration to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters describes the sights, smells, and sounds of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters talks about the interactions between Garifunas and Creoles in Dangriga

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about the culture of Dangriga, Belize

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters talks about radio and television during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters describes his curious and pensive nature as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about Chinese culture in Belize

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his early education and the mentors that fostered his curiosity

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters reflects on the psychological effects of racism on African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters shares his first impressions of the United States

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his experience at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters talks about his decision to become a scientist

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his experience at Hunter College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about Einsten's theory of relativity

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters describes his difficult relationship with his stepfather and his Minority Access to Research Careers Scholarship

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about the healing of his family relationships

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his research on the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about the applications of math for physics, astronomy, and business

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters discusses his mathematical theory of shadow patterns in the universe

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his work at Princeton University, Oxford University, and the Max Planck Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about his move to Duke University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his book, Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters reflects on the finite nature of human knowledge

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters contrasts science education in the United States and in Belize

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his research on how black holes affect light

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his desire to see more minorities pursue advanced degrees in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about being awarded the Blackwell Tapia Prize

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about achieving the status of a full professor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about the Petters Research Institute

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters reflects on being inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Portrait Gallery

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his work with the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters talks about being featured on 'Nova'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about honors he has received

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Arlie Petters talks about his research on the optics of black holes

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Arlie Petters describes his work in finance

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Arlie Petters talks about Arlie Petters Street in Belize

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his work to strengthen the economy of Brazil using science

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about his awards

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his students

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters discusses the future of gravitational lensing and astronomy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters shares his concerns about the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters reflects on his life

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about his hobbies and interests

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Arlie Petters talks about his faith

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Arlie Petters talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Arlie Petters describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Arlie Petters talks about his decision to become a scientist
Arlie Petters talks about the Petters Research Institute
Transcript
Okay, all right so, okay now so what pushed you over the edge into science instead of art, or did you still kind of think well I could do both, be both?$$Well I would say the, the roots of that go back to Belize and this high school teacher that really brought the different fields together. I'd began noticing that it's also an artistic dimension to mathematics. That the way these equations balance, there's a beauty and the feelings I began having from looking deeper into mathematics as well as some of the ideas, you know I started learning about Newton's theory of gravity, then I heard the name Einstein and all of these things that nature has a sort of mathematical structure that was beautiful. And so the feelings that gave me were similar to feelings I was getting when I did art and even feelings I got when I listened to music. I used to love ABBA, right in those days as a kid. And of course you know you also have the, the--we call it macovi music that would come from Al Green, you know and all of these singers, artists, you know and these guys of that, of that time. But for me it was the feeling I got if I listened to an Otis Redding song, or the feeling I got from doing art, or the feeling now, the new part that you get from looking at all mathematical equations balance. There was not an arbitrariness. So my mother made a remark that I think was defining. She said you know you could be an artist if you want, it's your choice, but you probably will have a hard time making a living doing that. And I had witnessed enough of these artists trying to sell their work during the summers in New York. I said but if you go into science you could make a good living and you could still do art on the side. Given that I had this--the same feelings I was getting from art I was getting in mathematics and my physics classes, I didn't feel like I was giving up something totally. So it was a natural flow that the passion can continue, right, in the hard sciences and mathematics. And I think that was what really nailed it for me.$$And that's something I haven't experienced in life yet. I, I used to do art but, but failed before math. I've heard mathematicians describe equations as elegant.$$Yes that's right. There's an aesthetic balance to it. And you'll find that the way it flows, it's like you're looking at a masterpiece. And that I think was what was able to fuel my passion for the subject.$$Okay, okay. Our friend Matthew Hickey always says that math is the language of physics.$$Yes, that's right, exactly. And the thing that I would say, you know as I got more mature intellectually, the profound mysteries, why is it that nature at its core, at least how human beings describe nature, that you need mathematics. That is a great mystery, right. That these underlying equations governing how the physical world works and they're beautiful. Yeah.$And in 2005, that's when you actually found the Petters Research Institute in Belize.$$In Belize, that's right.$$And were you, did you propose the idea to the Belizean's government or did they--did someone in Belize propose the idea to you, or--$$Well I'll tell you how the, the origin of this effort. I was involved in a worldwide effort in Africa to set up a new university in Africa. The motivation was what can one really do to help turn around [unclear] in Africa. We know that all kinds of efforts have been going on, billions of dollars spent. And so the idea was to instead try and use science and technology as a tool to address poverty alleviation. So we were involved in this and I'm looking at the, you know, phenomenal ideas of things that would to me empower communities to really raise standard of living and for people to take ownership of their country and help with building the kind of technological infrastructure you need for this new century. And said I need to take this concept to Belize, right I was involved in all the blueprints, so this intellectual blueprint of setting this thing up. And I saw that aspects of it Belize can surely benefit from. And so that was really the seed that was involved with the Institute, and then of course the government was very happy because we are politically neutral and I have had excellent support from them ever since.$$Okay there's a picture here, it's a beautiful building.$$Yeah, yah.$$And what, what, what are the--what kind of programs do you all run and how many children are involved?$$So the way we do it is we think of the Institute as a catalyst that would drive science and technology, STEM [Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics] fields, really, innovation, but we want to tie it to national development in very practical ways because science in the U.S. is not particularly--you can't just assume it's relevant in Belize, right. You don't want to do nuclear physics in Belize you know. So we try to touch on issues in science and technology that--I'll give you an example that are really needed in the country. We partnered with the Ministry of Defense in Belize and had a--offered a summer program that would teach young people how to assemble computers, how to repair them. Now this is something that if your computer ever breaks down in Belize, good luck with finding help for it. But we thought that this is simple enough that--we even had some elementary school kids involved. But surely teach it at the high school level. And so we partnered with the military. We were able to have everyone over at the base. I got a colleague from Duke [Duke University] who went down and taught the course and we got donations and they assembled all the computers. And at the end of the program, plugged it in and it booted up, Windows came up, and we donated them to needy schools. So what we try to--that's an example of a skill set. To me the repair and maintenance of computers is like you needing a plumber and electrician. That's basic for a modern economy. And Belize, you know it's an area where they had it to me primarily in a cottage industry form. And the Institute acts as a catalyst to try and systemize this sort of thing in the country. So we look at these kind of basic building blocks for an economy, go in there, run a program that would stimulate it and then you have a bigger organization come in and sustain it, right. So that, that's the way we act.

Eleanor Jones

Mathematician and professor of mathematics, Eleanor Jones was born on August 10, 1929 in Norfolk, Virginia. Her mother, Lillian Vaughn Green, was a domestic worker, and her father, George Herbert Green, was a letter carrier. She attended Booker T. Washington High School where her favorite subject was mathematics. Jones graduated as valedictorian of her class at the age of fifteen and received a scholarship to attend Howard University. Jones received her B.S. degree in mathematics in 1949. She studied under Elbert Cox, the first African American to receive his Ph.D. degree in mathematics. Jones remained at Howard University where she received her M.S. degree in mathematics in 1950. Then, she returned to Booker T. Washington High School as a mathematics and science teacher for two years.

Jones was hired in 1955 as an associate professor of mathematics at Hampton University. When schools in Norfolk, Virginia were closed in 1958 due to forced integration, Jones helped tutor students in a local church. That same year, she also became vice chair of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Virginia. By 1962, Jones left Hampton to study mathematics at Syracuse University under the tutelage of Dr. James Reid. In 1965, she was elected to the Sigma Xi science honor society and went on to graduate from Syracuse University in 1966 as the eleventh African American woman to earn her Ph.D. degree in mathematics. Her thesis, entitled, “Abelian Groups and Their Endomorphism Rings and the Quasi-Endomorphism of Torsion Free Abelian Groups,” examined advanced abstract algebraic concepts. In 1967, Jones rejoined the faculty at Hampton University. One year later, she became professor of mathematics and chair of the department at Norfolk State University.

Jones retired as professor emeritus from Norfolk University in 2003. She served on the Committee for Opportunities for Underrepresented Minorities of the American Mathematical Society, the Executive board of the Association for Women in Mathematics and the Board of Governors for the Mathematical Association of America. Jones also held the position of vice president of the National Association of Mathematicians. She raised three sons, Everett B. Jones, Edward A. Dawley and the late Herbert G. Dawley.

Eleanor Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.024

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/7/2012

Last Name

Jones

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Green Dawley

Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Syracuse University

Douglass Park Elementary School

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Eleanor

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

JON26

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

All is well that ends well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

8/10/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Virginia Beach

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruit, Vegetables

Short Description

Math professor and mathematician Eleanor Jones (1929 - ) was the eleventh African American woman to receive her Ph.D. degree in mathematics and served as professor of mathematics at Norfolk State University for over thirty years.

Employment

Booker T. Washington High School

Hampton University

Norfolk State University

ECPI College of Technology

Hampton Institute

Syracuse University

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eleanor Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones describes her mother's background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones describes her mother's background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about her father's service in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eleanor Jones talks about her grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eleanor Jones describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eleanor Jones describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eleanor Jones describes Norfolk, Virginia as she grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Eleanor Jones talks about her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones describes her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about her interests as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about Douglas Park Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about her experience at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones describes her social activities at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones talks about her decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones talks about pledging Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about the mystery surrounding her maternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones describes the faculty at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones talks about prominent people who spoke at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones talks about Dr. Mordecai Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones talks about her fellowship and her work with the census bureau

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones talks about William S. Claytor and Jeremiah Certaine

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about her marriage to Edward Dawley, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about the Norfolk 17

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones talks about Rosa Parks

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones discusses her involvement with the Congress of Civil Rights (CORE)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eleanor Jones describes her divorce from Edward Dawley

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eleanor Jones describes her experience at Syracuse University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones describes her doctoral research

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones talks about sports and her experience at Syracuse University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones discusses her experience teaching math

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones describes her publication in American Mathematical Monthly

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones describes her efforts to attract female students to math and science

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about her retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones talks about her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones reflects upon her career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about her divorce from Everett Jones

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about her children

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones talks about her hobbies

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Eleanor Jones describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
Eleanor Jones describes her doctoral research
Eleanor Jones describes her efforts to attract female students to math and science
Transcript
All right. Now I was trying to get you to explain the nature of your dissertation. Now you--$$Well, okay. Well I was going to say that--well it starts off in the first one saying all the groups considered (unclear) abelian. Now what do we mean by abelian? That's one, that's a concept that you know some operations in arithmetic are abelian. For example, if you multiply, if--well abstractive, you say if AB is equal to BA, in other words what operations? If you multiply 2 x 3, you get the same thing if you multiply 3 x 2, that's in abelian operation. Addition is one. But on the other hand, subtraction is not in abelian operation because for example, if you take, if you have $3.00 and spend $2.00, you're left with $1.00. But on the other hand, if you have $2.00, and spend $3.00, you're in the hole. So that's not in abelian operation. But it so happens that the groups that I always deal with in the operations, that is involved, they are abelian which you can go both ways and get the same result when you do that.$$Okay. So that's what your dissertation was about?$$Um-hmm, dealing with abelian groups and elements and that.$$Okay. All right, so when you finished your Ph.D., now were you the first black woman to get a Ph.D. in mathematics in Syracuse?$$Yes, so they say.$$Okay.$$Um-hmm.$$All right. So I guess we have to believe it.$$That's why they, yeah they put a picture in the paper saying I paved the way for those who have come after me.$So you became the state, you were the state representative for it and it says here in '76 [1976] also you were the co-director of the National Science Foundation Women in Science Career Workshop Grant.$$Um-hmm.$$Now what was that about?$$All right. Now schools, now sometimes schools are interested in building up departments and getting students. Now I found a very useful way was to bring students from high school on your campus and show them some of the things. And I tried to get some of the students to want to come there. But now to have those--what I did, the first person, woman to get a Ph.D. in mathematics was by the name of Sonia Kovalevsky [Kovalevskaya], where--she was in Russia. But right now, so we could--so the people who would grant the money for you to have a Sonia Kovalevsky day would--dealt with other institutions. So now that was one reason too we find that you get to meet them and if you were on committees with them and they respect you and you apply for money, they give you money. Well that helps you at your school when you have finance, you bring 300 people on from the buses, from the--on the campus and you're able to feed them and have the bus pick them up but you have gotten the money--but they have given you enough what we call a grant. Now while I was at Norfolk State, I had six of them right, from--they hadn't had anyone--see, now that's something too they don't notice. People who are active in the field will do things that the others don't do. It's more to it than just teaching your classes. I would write for the grants, I would get the money. I never had anyone saying we don't have money for you. And they gave me (unclear). So we have them, they come up on the campus. And then some of them, I'm not going to say they were the brightest one necessarily, but some of the students you--they all women, would decide to come to the school and all. And then you get some of them and talk to them, some of the others who live nearby maybe in the (unclear) section of Norfolk or something like that could commute there and they think they could be quite happy there. So we start to getting students from other schools and all that can go there. They were very useful tool for recruiting. We say we want to gain their interest in mathematics, but really it's aimed at recruiting. And I think the school at which we worked, they reward you even though the student may not come in your field. But if you bring in a lot of students from a certain high school and they go, they come to the school and pay their fees, I don't think it, I think they still will credit you with being a good person.$$Okay. Now you were also, now you served on the committee for improving mathematics remediation efforts in college of the, Committee of the Mathematics Association of America. You were a member of the Mathematics Association of America as well?$$Board of Governors.$$Board of Governors.$$Uh-huh, yeah uh-huh.$$Okay.$$Yeah, Virginia--I represented the State of Virginia there.$$Okay.$$They picked them.$$So did--now did you get--when did you get involved in the Association for Women in Mathematics?$$Right after I got my Ph.D. there and during there, um-hmm.$$Okay. And is that an offshoot of the American Mathematical Society or is it--?$$Not really, no. It's not really but what it is, you belong to all of those. Now the American Mathematical Society, remember in grad school the departments sponsored all of us in the society, paid our dues for us and we invited them to join. But I think it's very important that you belong to them. You can serve your school better if you have contacts outside of your school. Now, like now if a state did not have, do graduate work in mathematics, but if you got contacts there you can use sometime and you really have a good, have a student that won't embarrass you, you can get funds for them to attend there.$$Okay. Now in '91 [1991] you wrote an article called 'A Minority Woman's Viewpoint and Winning Women into Mathematics,' published by the Mathematics Association of America, right?$$Yes.$$So what was the gist of that basically?$$Well I talk--one reason why they--now see, I was just trying to see what the focus of that article really was. Well I said on why people go into mathematics and all. But I mention the fact that too, most of the students that I got though were male and then of course I mentioned that, the fellow Charlie Yates, which I said something about earlier to you there. He was one of my favorite students when high--when I was a high school teacher there. And I do think that's one thing too, a lot of people do not encourage people to go in mathematics. I find minority people don't. Now, and I don't know about the other group if not--they encourage them or not. Which I think of course now I can see the reason why though because you figure if you would spend that much time in school you supposed to go to medical school. You're not supposed--I mean really they figure. But sometimes if mathematics is somehow better. I think being happy and enjoying what you are doing although you might not can pay as much for your car or your suit that the person did there, but you enjoy doing what you're doing and driving a lesser car to do that job can be just as rewarding in certain respects because you spend so many hours a day working. And if you're not--and if it's drudgery, you have to spend much more time to amuse yourself when you're not working and all. So that's what I think if you let people see the joy of doing mathematics, some of them will decide to make it a lifetime thing. And then too if there are some of them now that say a man like Blackwell, he will probably get income very close to what a lousy doctor's position might get. See, when people and schools have him come speak, well they give him I don't know what kind of fees that they are, what kind of fees they give people. I was at the stage, I never got to that fee stage. They give me a plaque when I go [laughter] speak to them now. But some of the people you know well they get nice fees I understand.